By Ryan Atkinson
Globe Sports Writer
Kimble Anders now has a much longer trip to come to Joplin and help with the Bright Futures celebrity golf tournament that bears his name.
But there he was Thursday night at Downstream Casino, a bit road-worn but still seemingly happy to be involved.
“This is my fourth year being a part of it and it’s a great opportunity to be able to give back,” said Anders, the three-time Pro Bowl running back for the Kansas City Chiefs. “It has been very rewarding to see all this happen.”
Anders recently — as in one week and three days ago — moved from the Kansas City area back to his hometown of Galveston, Texas, where he’ll be the head football coach at Ball High School, where he played in the 1980s. He’ll also be the athletic director for the Galveston Independent School District.
“I love to coach. I love to be around kids,” he said of the move. “I was an administrator four years with the Kansas City public school district. I wanted to get back onto both sides and I had the opportunity to go back to Texas and do that.”
Anders, who played from 1991 to 2000 with the Chiefs and was chosen for the Pro Bowl three straight years from 1995-1997, signed on for the Kimble Anders Celebrity Golf Classic four years ago when he learned about Bright Futures, a grass roots, community-based program geared toward changing dropout rates.
“A friend of mine called me and told be about the Bright Futures program and was able to come up and meet them and they told me everything they were doing,” he said. “At one point I was trying to get it implemented in the Kansas City public school district. It’s a great opportunity for school districts ... it’s been a great deal.”
Among the other former professional athletes in the tournament is Dan Saleuamua, who spent eight years of his 12-year NFL career with the Chiefs. He was a Pro Bowler in 1995, and his 18 fumble recoveries are still a Chiefs record.
“It’s important to show people, no matter what we’ve done in our lives, you still have to look to your future,” Saleuamua said. “Everybody has a dream. The biggest thing is, how did you get to that level? What were the steps?
“If we reach one of these kids and show them the work we had to do to get to this level ... it’s not easy. It’s not a walk in the park kind of thing.”
And while both former Chiefs were talking, the conversation naturally turned toward the 2013 Kansas City team and new coach Andy Reid.
Anders said he felt like Reid was the right man to help the Chiefs bounce back.
“I had the opportunity to talk to some of the guys, particularly the guys on offense,” Anders said. “They’re very thrilled about what they’re doing on offense, stretching the ball downfield, the plays they’re running and the camaraderie (Reid) is building.
“He is a leader. That’s one thing I can say about Andy Reid. He has that talent like Marty Schottenheimer. He can get things going.”